Qualcomm promotes Mollenkopf to CEO, ends Microsoft talk

Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:59pm EST
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By Noel Randewich and Sruthi Ramakrishnan

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Qualcomm Inc, the world's biggest maker of cellphone chips, unexpectedly named Chief Operating Officer Steve Mollenkopf as chief executive on Friday, heading off the possibility he might be poached to run Microsoft Corp.

Mollenkopf had been in line to eventually succeed CEO Paul Jacobs, the 51-year-old son of a Qualcomm co-founder, but that plan was sped up in order to keep the senior executive from leaving, Jacobs told Reuters in an interview.

"Our executives are very talented and very sought after," Jacobs said, when asked by Reuters whether the promotion was related to an offer from Microsoft.

"The timing is a little faster than we originally planned but the key thing is to make sure we kept management continuity," Jacobs said.

Jacobs and Mollenkopf declined to specifically discuss Microsoft or whether Mollenkopf had a job offer from the world's largest software company, which is seeking a candidate to replace retiring CEO Steve Ballmer.

On Thursday, Bloomberg News reported that Microsoft has been considering Mollenkopf as a candidate for CEO.

"He would have been an awesome (Microsoft) CEO," said FBR analyst Chris Rolland. "But Qualcomm didn't want to lose him, and it makes sense to me."

"If I were the son of a founder of a $130 billion company, I would want to make sure I have the top guy behind me - and Steve is definitely that guy," Rolland said.   Continued...

Qualcomm Chief Operating Officer Steve Mollenkopf speaks at the LG G2 smart presentation in New York August 7, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid